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Can Turkeys Eat Cranberries?

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Birds generally love to eat wild berries because they contain sugar and calories.

But can a turkey eat cranberries?

Most birds, including turkeys, can eat cranberries without developing any complications.

Oftentimes, turkeys will seek cranberries out because they provide a good source of nutrition with a bit of added sugar. Any nearby cranberry plants will be a welcome meal in environments where food is harder to come by.

Portrait of Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, with blue and red head

For anyone raising turkeys, you’ll be surprised to see how robust they are and how much they’ll gobble up quickly.

Turkeys love to eat almost anything they come across. They love fruit and veggies, and they’ll even eat up insects or small rodents given a chance.

Here is some helpful information on why turkeys eat cranberries and some other foods that are great for these beautiful birds.

freshly harvested red cranberries in wicker basket

Are Cranberries Good for Turkeys?

Turkeys don’t eat cranberries the same way humans do. The berries turkeys eat come from foraging, so the berries don’t have a ton of added sugar in them.

They also eat far fewer of them compared to how many cranberries it takes to make a glass of juice, so there’s less overall sugar consumption. Turkeys also don’t eat Craisins, which have a sugary coating.

However, natural cranberries are a healthy snack for turkeys. Cranberries are an excellent source of:

  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber

Cranberries are a relatively low-calorie food that will keep the turkey’s immune systems stronger.

bunch of Cranberries

Is Eating Too Many Cranberries Dangerous?

Cranberries are generally more affordable than most other types of berries because they’re not as easy to eat for humans. As a result, farmers and hobbyist turkey owners can purchase cranberries for a bargain.

However, just because they’re cost-effective, it doesn’t mean turkeys should have an unlimited supply of cranberries.

For example, eating too many cranberries may increase oxalate in the urine, which can lead to kidney stones.

Stones can be fatal for turkeys and are extremely painful, so relegate cranberries to an occasional treat rather than a frequent meal.

assorted raw organic vegetables

Feeding Fruit to Turkeys

Turkeys love fruit, and they’ll eat only fruit if that’s what they’re fed constantly. Giving them a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, and protein is essential when raising birds. Fruits lack protein, which is something every animal needs to grow.

Fruits can be a regular snack for birds as long as they have access to other nutrients they need. Turkey owners often throw older fruit out to their birds or let them graze on the property freely to scrounge up any cranberries, apples, or peaches they find.

Sometimes feeding turkeys fruits with pits like cherries, apricots, and peaches can be dangerous, especially if the birds swallow them whole. Typically, the birds will eat around the pits, but smaller fruits like cherries are more difficult to manage.

As a result, turkeys can ingest the pits. Then, they have trouble digesting them, and the pits can cause some health problems.

It’s best to avoid giving them fruit with large pits or seeds to keep them safe and healthy. If a turkey tries to eat a pit too quickly, it can choke on the fruit and die.

Turkeys in a pen, close-up, raised in captivity.

Wild Turkey vs. Captive Turkeys

Domestic turkeys on farms and homesteads usually eat feed that owners buy at local agricultural stores or online. The feed is typically a blend of protein, fiber, and vegetables that stimulate growth and prevent disease.

Wild turkeys are often much leaner and smaller than farm-raised birds because they eat less, and the food they eat is leaner as well.

For example, wild turkeys find protein from eating insects, reptiles, and other foods. As a result, captive turkeys consume more calories and proteins, growing faster and larger.

A turkey’s diet varies based on who’s raising them. Commercial farmers, for instance, want their turkeys to grow and have as much meat as possible when they go to the slaughter. Of course, this means more dollars per turkey.

As a result, they supplement with corn, oats, and other grains to get their birds as heavy as possible in the least amount of time.

Other folks want their birds to taste like wild turkeys, so they focus on giving them a diet that’s as close to what they’d eat in the wild as possible. Mixing in commercial feed helps keep them healthy when they’re young, but they’re weaned off feed and encouraged to forage.

Sliced red ripe watermelon.

Eating Wild Fruit

Wild turkeys adapt themselves to their environments. It is amazing to see animals navigate conditions and find foods that help them survive. For example, wild birds know which wild fruits they can eat and which ones they should avoid.

You can count on wild turkeys to skip any fruits or grains they shouldn’t eat, and if they do eat something, it’s because their bodies are conditioned to handle them.

However, captive birds don’t have the same instincts. They’ll often eat anything they can get their beaks on, including fruit and other harmful food. As a result, turkey owners should watch what they eat and only give sweet fruits to turkeys as an occasional treat.

Cranberries are great, but turkey owners who want to give their animals more fruit should focus on fruit that is high in water content with low sugar. Watermelon, for example, is a fantastic food for turkeys, chickens, and other birds. It keeps them hydrated without being too sweet.


Both wild and captive turkeys can eat cranberries. They are an excellent source of antioxidants to keep the birds healthy and prevent disease.

It is advised that turkeys should eat sweet things such as fruits in moderation. So, avoid giving captive turkeys too many cranberries within a short time span.

When in doubt, stick to feeding them commercial feed until they’re fully-grown adult birds with stronger stomachs. Whenever giving a turkey something new to eat, owners should monitor them closely to see how they react.

If they show any signs of trouble digesting or stop eating the foods, remove the cranberries or any other food from future feedings.


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